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Distributed Computing Foundry: The Affero GPL: Closing the Distribution Loophole

May 22, 2002, 16:00 (21 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eugene E. Kim)

"Fundamentally, all open source communities want others to modify their software and contribute those modifications back to their projects. The General Public License (GPL) mandates this by requiring that modifications to software licensed under the GPL also be distributed under the GPL.

"The key word here is 'distributed.' You are only required to GPL your modifications if you plan to release them publically. The GPL FAQ states:

"'You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.'

"In a world where the software users run is physically located on their machines, this requirement serves its purpose well. However, what happens when the software is hosted somewhere else on the network...?"

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